Treading Into (Or Walking On) Biblical Waters

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TIME underscores this week’s headline, “Why We Should Teach The Bible in Public School,” with the advisory subhead: “But very, very carefully.” What does that mean, exactly? It’s like saying, “Here, grab this scalding hot pan, but be careful when you grab it,” or “Hey, let’s jump off of this bridge into raging waters hundreds of feet below, but let’s be careful while we’re doing it.” We’re either doing something or we’re not, caveats aside.

Carefully or not, the Bible is nudging its way into public schools. And it’s worth noting that the magazine, read by millions each week, is essentially endorsing it. But TIME is not alone.

Georgia’s Board of Education will endorse and fund biblical teachings next school year when they add two Biblical literature classes to its curriculum. Why teach the Old and New Testament in public school? Because of the Bible’s “important role in history,” one Republican supporter said.

Georgia’s just one example. According to the National Council on Bible Curriculum, 373 school districts in 37 states now implement its Bible course curriculum. And the states are red and blue.

The TIME story argues (strongly, and favorably) that the Bible is the “bedrock of western culture,” backing up the argument with a colorful timeline of popular culture items (The Chronicles of Narnia, The Matrix, Babel, Spamalot) that rely on Biblical themes, and a full-page photo of a conservative Christian Texas school teacher who honors “constitutional neutrality” in her classroom.

The Biblical wave is moving and growing, and groups like the Bible Literacy Project are riding it out, fully endorsed by the AP, Chicago Tribune, Knight-Ridder newspapers, the Wall Street Journal and WORLD Magazine.

Consensus is building (to Biblical proportions, maybe), but it’s not clear how carefully we are moving forward.

–Gary Moskowitz

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